The game payment company Xsolla launches Unconventional, a platform for the implementation of virtual events with 3D avatars in 3D worlds for the game industry.
Xsolla offers more than 1,500 game companies access to more than 700 payment systems worldwide. And it has expanded its services by providing developers with a “game business engine” so that they can only focus on creating games. The company is expanding into events because it sees this as a way to keep meeting the world’s developers.
And with Unconventional, the company tries to help developers who are no longer able to attend large events in person. This is an alternative to talking to people who are constantly using Zoom on the phone.
“All real events were closed due to the pandemic and we saw a real opportunity to expand into the events page,” said Chris Hewish, president of Xsolla, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We’ve spent much of this year working on features and tools that will allow users to truly recreate the real-world experience of attending events and the online high-fidelity platform.”
To create Unconventional, Xsolla partnered with Pantera Entertainment, an indie game company owned by Steve Fielding. Pantera created Your World, which uses the Unreal game engine to create a realistic animated carnival environment in which attendees can create their own 3D avatars and occupy 3D booths in a 3D virtual world. Around 500 people can take part in events in the unconventional space. Let’s call it a little metaverse.
“Steve created this really cool platform where you can create and create your own games in a more advanced version of Roblox or Minecraft,” said Hewish.
The goal is to recreate some of the networking and random meetings that can happen at real-world events. Fielding is done unconventionally for Xsolla, while Pantera remains in charge.
The first event is the Epic Games Game Carnival, hosted by Unreal Engine, which begins in late October and runs through the end of the year. Xsolla will keep the unconventional virtual space open so that people can meet and chat.
Hewish said the entire project is aimed at alleviating zoom fatigue.
“It’s about how you can regain the fun of going to conferences and events in person,” said Hewish. It’s all that social part that happens between sessions. Meeting new people by chance. You can get in touch with people at a go-kart race. You can also monetize an event with the sale of content or user-generated content. “
Image credit: Xsolla
Unreal Engine held a developer competition and the top 60 projects got their own booths in a large virtual environment resembling a carnival. Finalists can present their games and their network simultaneously with up to 500 other industry experts, publishers and investors in the same virtual room – from the comfort of their own home or office.
Xsolla gave developers a trial run of Game Developers Carnival with Your World earlier this year. And it’s still in its infancy.
“Xsolla provides funding, marketing, support and publishing,” said Hewish. “This is still in development at an alpha stage. We’ll officially roll it out mid to late next year. “
Attendees will need to download the client to create their avatars and attend events. People can go to a big top to hear lectures, attend award shows, or have fun at parties. And outside, attendees can walk around looking at booths or talk audio chat with attendees or exhibition staff.
Unreal Engine’s Game Carnival is partnering with three video game fairs from October to December. The platform stays open between every B2B event so that players worldwide can experience all new titles and innovative technologies.
The current schedule is:
- White Nights opening networking event: October 26th, 7.30pm GMT + 3
- White Nights: October 26th to October 30th
- Open to consumers: October 31 to November 18
- Unreal Engine Dev Contest 2020 Awards: November 19th
- DevGamm: November 19-21
- Open to consumers: November 22nd to December 2nd
- Game event: December 2-6
- Xsolla Funding Club Awards: December 6th
- Open to consumers: December 7th to 31st
Unconventional supports immersive communication tools to replicate the personal interaction of traditional conferences. These include open microphone voice chat with real-time avatar lip sync, proximity-based group voice chat, universal text chat and direct messaging. Users can also quickly save digital business cards for easy exchange of contact information. Participants can take part in fun social activities and play mini-games to win prizes.
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